Tragedy can strike in an instant. One moment you are mopping the floor concentrating on a mundane task, making final preparations for guests, last minute details, silly little things; the picture is crooked on the wall, a dust ball that was cleverly hiding just beyond the shadows ready to casually roll out just when all are seated for dinner was spotted just in the nick of time. You even silently say a little “thank you God” that your radar detected low hanging dust web you’ve been meaning to swipe away for weeks now.
Of course this all seems quite the norm of behavior when preparing for a night of entertainment…and the the phone rings and your world shatters to a million pieces.
Standing alone…numb and cold. I remember my brain didn’t seem to connect in any place. It was as if I tried to put one single thought together but something kept wiping it away. Fear. My heart hurt because it was beating so hard. My throat was parched and when I swallowed it felt like sand. Where are the tears? Weeks later…why don’t the tears stop?
9His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2: 9-10 NIV
I’ve always thought that verse to be odd as if cursing God would help Job’s integrity? Was she ashamed of his suffering or afraid of it? Curse God? I don’t remember blaming God for my tragedy. Of course at the time I was not participating in my faith. Did I believe God was punishing me? No. But I did not understand that God allowed suffering. Was my tragedy from Satan? No. We live, we die. That day was the day my Dad was called home.
If you have experienced loss of a family member, spouse, child or close friend…have you ever reflected upon that time and wondered if your loss allowed others to see God work through your grief? When you experience trials in your life do you acknowledge that God allows those trials? Do others see your faith through your actions and words? Have you ever been mocked for your faith through your trials?
God allowed Satan to test Job…Beginning with the sores from head to toe…later we will see more tragedy heaped on Job. As God is allowing his servant to be tested what does he provide for Job? Friends.
11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Job 2:11-13
Many times I have looked back on that day and since then I have comforted friends who have experienced their own tragedy. There are even those around us who are silently suffering with their own unspoken afflictions….job loss, depression, addiction, marital problems, eating disorders, anger issues, job loss, debt. And what was the one thing they need the most? Someone to sympathize and to comfort them. Not with words but with action. Someone to just hold them. Not try to make it better. Not try to explain it. Just someone to allow them to move through the grief at their own pace.
God allows suffering. Simple as that.
Question is…what do we do with it? Use it for his glory or curse him?
When others around you are suffering…what do you do? Are you available or uncomfortable?
Father…I will praise you when I suffer for through my suffering you strengthen me and I pray that others will see your glory through my perseverance and faith. Prepare my heart Lord for times of suffering and help me to be aware of those around me who need a friend to sit with them…even if it’s in total silence.
ps…After I wrote this I began to backtrack and catch up on my 66 books reading and when I came to yesterday’s post I almost came back and rewrote. But I didn’t because I felt like this was the post God wanted me to share. Maybe we need more reflection on how we handle our trials and suffering. As DM wrote; ” The church in the West seems to be soft because we have not embraced suffering when it has come our way.” He is correct and as I am currently reading John Piper’s book; Spectacular Sins…it’s not easy to digest all he has to say about our lack of “suffering well” here in the West. So my apologies for the repetitive topic. 🙂